People who join the Ultimate Software family are typically seeking a challenging work experience, a people-first culture, and a climate of innovation that includes a healthy respect for individuality, diversity, and family. For higher-level positions that require proven competencies through previous work history, we are fortunate to attract so many applicants with experience from the top companies in the world that we can direct much of our focus to cultural fit and personality factors when making our offer decisions. We are also fortunate that a very high percentage of young people who intern with us choose to apply for full-time jobs at Ultimate because they are so excited about our culture and forward-thinking style.
What We Are Looking For
We are looking for people who have an inner fire to excel, a deep instinct to collaborate, and a passion for innovation, along with verifiable competencies. We evaluate candidates on characteristics that fall into three categories:
- Drive: Self-motivation and passion
- Values: Team-player attitude with a “do-the-right-thing” ethic
- Competencies: Proven track record of high performance
Analytical and Cultural Assessments
For some positions, particularly in our customer-facing Services organization, we use an Analytical Assessment that helps us evaluate candidates in such areas as critical reasoning, numerical reasoning, word-relationship recognition, and abstract reasoning. Candidates also take a cultural assessment analysis that we developed internally to determine if they are a good fit for Ultimate. Candidates answer questions designed to reveal Drivers and Values, Work Style, Capacity to Influence, and People Acumen. To assess Drivers and Values, for example, we ask people to reveal what expectations they have for themselves, how they intend to achieve these aspirations, what principles guide their decision-making, and what they see as obstacles.
- Drivers and Values
- Work Style
- Capacity to Influence
- People Acumen
Candidate Experience and Strategic Role in Our Business
Our Candidate Experience matters, and we are committed to making it astounding, no matter what it takes. Creating an exceptional Candidate Experience depends, in part, on selecting the right people. To that end, we assess candidates in a variety of ways to determine if they possess our desired intangibles that would facilitate their blending well into Ultimate's DNA. We also seek candidates who have a long-term mindset with a desire to grow once they join us. Because our talent acquisition team has a strong partnership and integration with the talent management and succession-planning strategy at Ultimate, recruiting goes beyond tactical function and is a strategic enabler of the business, with an active and influential seat at the table. We have uncompromisingly high standards and source candidates on our own—constantly asking our best people to source great hires and never relying on job boards and applicants alone. We use our internally developed UltiPro Recruiting cloud solution for tracking candidates and our communications with them.
Welcoming Candidates for Interviews
When candidates come to Ultimate’s headquarters for interviews and are waiting to be greeted by a recruiter, the receptionist gives the candidate an iPad with access to information on Ultimate, including:
- Open jobs at Ultimate via our Careers website
- Links to Ultimate’s presence of social media sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook
- Customer stories, quotes, video testimonials, and a list of customers who have won our Innovation Awards
- Pictures and videos of special events at Ultimate, such as New Hire Orientation, our Halloween celebration, team games and outings, ice cream truck visits, masseuse treatments, breakfast spreads, our Connections customer conference, and more
- Pictures and videos of work areas in Ultimate’s offices, as well as UltiPeeps collaborating on projects and competing in innovation events such as 48 Hours
- Videos of new hires and interns discussing their experiences
- A detailed list of benefits and events at Ultimate
Team Interviewing: “The Peer Test”
When we bring candidates onsite for interviews, they spend time with prospective future team members, along with the hiring manager and team leads. Teamwork is a critical element in our culture, and hiring managers give significant weight to the opinions of the candidate’s future peers.
Casual, Unstructured Interviewing
We find that unstructured interviewing can reveal as much about a candidate as traditional interviews. Sharing lunches and dinners is common practice at Ultimate, from small teams to whole departments, so it’s a natural extension for us to take candidates we are recruiting to nearby Tarantella Ristorante for excellent Italian food; Starbucks for coffee or a sandwich; or to The Cheese Course for cheese and salads. These restaurants are 3- to 4-minute walks from our headquarters, and in those casual settings, we spend informal time with candidates and get to know them as people. Our unstructured time is a powerful method for indicating how potential candidates might fit in with our culture, and, equally important, helps them to understand who we are as well.
Design Thinking Model: Applied to Finding “Fit” and Hiring
Ultimate’s recruiting team has been using a process conceptually based on the Design Thinking approach that Stanford’s Institute of Design endorses for transforming engineering teams into inspired and collaborative cultures that can innovate more effectively. We recognize that Design Thinking has been through many evolutions since its origin in product design and has had many fathers in this age of innovation, including design theorist Donald Norman, who redefined participatory design into what he called “user-centered design.” Our recruiting team uses the five steps of the Stanford process—empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test—to continually find new ways of identifying and profiling people who “fit” Ultimate’s culture. Using this methodology, our team has developed an ideal personality profile along with a variety of skill and personality assessments, and they use a collaborative approach in both ranking candidates and developing specialized testing vehicles to assess candidates for diverse positions.
Finding “Fit” by Leveraging Recruiting Videos
We pursue top talent from diverse backgrounds and experiences through channels including social networking, job fairs at universities, and job postings, and often through referrals from our own people. Sharing videos of our people online encourages like-minded individuals to contact us directly. The videos open the door for us to communicate with potential candidates electronically and ease us into developing strong relationships with them, if their personalities and backgrounds are a fit.
Working with Universities: Multiple Avenues for Finding “Fit”
To help us identify extraordinary talent and people who “fit” our culture at Ultimate, our recruiting leaders have developed long-term relationships with university professors from top national and international programs. The professors identify those they believe best fit our profile and send us those names so we can assess them further. We find others by speaking with university students on site at their campuses on a regular basis. When professors have invited our talent team to present to their classes, we allocate some time to assessing students’ competencies by challenging them to solve difficult coding problems as a part of our presentation, and then we award prizes to students who solve them most quickly. In addition, our recruiters often bring a junior or senior engineer to join them in presenting on campus to give students a firsthand view of what it’s like to work in Ultimate’s cultural environment. After our presentation, the recruiters meet with interested students to interact with them personally (sometimes over dinner) and assess how close the personality fit is.
Virtual Engineering Competitions
In March 2015, we sponsored our third UltiCoder Competition, a virtual contest that includes a small number of difficult coding problems designed by Ultimate Software engineers. More than 200 software engineers (none currently Ultimate employees) participated in and resolved coding challenges within a four-hour limit. Eight of the 10 problems were solved, with some participants solving multiple problems. Winners were invited to a day visit at Ultimate, which includes a tour of Ultimate, meeting our Chief Technology Officer and other Ultimate executives, spending time with peer software engineers and learning how they work, and interviewing with teams with whom they might like to work in the future.
Our internship programs give us the opportunity to fully evaluate a candidate before we offer a permanent position: including skills, drive, passion, values, work ethic, and ability to become a productive team member. Interns have the opportunity to develop professionally and to experience our team environment firsthand.
Engineering’s TechSTARS, our longest-running and most intense internship program, welcomes college students, recent graduates, and people willing to work for Ultimate until such time as we have an open full-time position. The TechSTARS program won a 2010 Optimas Award from Workforce magazine for its innovations. TechSTARS interview with managers, coding teams, and former TechSTARS, who evaluate them as they solve coding problems, demonstrate whether they have potential to become test engineers, and show whether they are a cultural fit for Ultimate. Once selected, on arrival they are assigned mentors, follow customized learning paths, and work on a peer-to-peer basis with full-time engineers on small teams.
We welcome TechSTARS into our culture by including them in Ultimate-sponsored trips to Universal Studios and Disney World in Orlando with our families, and offer special events just for TechSTARS that encourage bonding. Recent TechSTARS events included a Duck Tour in Miami, a snorkeling trip to Key West, and an evening at Marlins Park watching the Miami Marlins in Ultimate’s private box, enjoying appetizers, drinks, and casual dinner food during the game. Over the last nine years, 96% of interns have accepted full-time positions when offered. New hires from our TechSTARS program include people who have previously either interned or worked full time at such companies as Google, Apple, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and SpaceX.
I love that everyone at Ultimate is a First-Class Citizen, even interns.
Evaluating “Fit” and Preparing Interns for Full-Time Positions
The amount of training that we offer interns is a differentiator for Ultimate. Since we assign interns to work with established full-time engineers and business analysts at Ultimate, we are providing them firsthand experience with our collaborative culture. The day-to-day interaction familiarizes them with how we work together and prepares them for a possible future with us, but it also gives us an opportunity to evaluate how well they acclimate.
To further maximize their potential for gaining full-time employment with Ultimate, we also give them access to online paths for self-learning, designed specifically for interns. Like our learning paths for new hires, there are many types of learning vehicles available, including videos, PowerPoints, links to online courses, webcasts, and creative projects to tackle for practice and evaluation. A sample project for a software engineer is to develop a Web-based ASP.NET application that could help a receptionist in one of our buildings track down an employee whose car has a flat tire or is parked in an illegal zone and/or automatically send an e-mail to people in a particular building to address the issue.